Personas — Are they really worth the effort?

By Rebecca Le Grange

I had the pleasure of going to my favorite restaurant last week for lunch. I made a reservation online. At the allotted time my guest and I arrived for our business lunch — at the same time as a number of other diners. Before I was able to tell our host who I was, I was greeted by name. I am an ‘occasional regular’ to this establishment, I use it for infrequent business lunches and occasionally a family weekend lunch on a special occasion, but not often enough to be known. I am no Jay Z, so how did our host know my face in the crowd? I began to watch.

Appetizers
The host greeted customer after customer by name — each of them delighted to be recognized and made to feel special. How was this magic done? Simple, joined up thinking. The restaurant booking system was able to pull in relevant information from the booking into the restaurant’s system. If the host was missing key information (e.g., a photo) he was able to look up customers on social platforms (e.g., LinkedIn) and feed this information into the system, then he or any other host was able to recognize patrons on arrival and personally greet them. Simple, but so effective.

Main Course
Next, I watched as the host assessed each party and seated them according to their needs. Business lunch diners in the section of the restaurant arranged to dampen noise and give a feeling of privacy. Larger parties — generating more noise — in the section designed to make them feel at home and welcome to celebrate. Each party was being offered a product appropriate to their needs. Again, so simple, but so effective.

Business lunch patrons were offered the easy-to-order, easy-to-eat, ‘easy to finish in under an hour’ menu. Larger parties were offered the more comprehensive menu with a larger number of choices and sharing platters etc. The right product at the right time to meet the customer’s needs. Menus were offered based on need, not the usual generic one-size-fits-all menu of 100s of pages.

Dessert
And finally… Each server then approached their tables when their customers were ready for more information or intervention; drinks, ordering, serving etc., but crucially only when it was appropriate. By the end of the meal each table was satisfied in terms of food but also satisfied as a customer. They had received a bespoke service, felt understood, cared about and appreciated.

Recently Arby’s CEO gave insight on how personas have been a key strategy behind their incredible change in fortune from the butt of jokes, to major success. Paul Brown, Arby’s CEO, knows exactly who his target audience is, and what their distinct personas are, so he markets and sells to them — not to the masses. So, the question is; does your marketing serve your customers well or are you guilty of one-size-fits-all content that delights no one?

How to make your customers feel understood, cared about and appreciated, and not spend any money yourself:

Take what you already have and make it work harder

  1. Make sure you have a clear set of personas and everyone knows about them, not just marketing.
  2. Review your website with these personas in mind. Does your website actually meet their needs or is it a generic site filled with graphics and copy hoping to catch someone’s, anyone’s, attention?
  3. Consider whether your website is really communicating with your persona’s and their state of mind — relevant communication is key. Are your personas busy wanting fast solutions and easy answers or are they more likely to be researching looking for fact heavy content?
  4. If you are already running software on your site that allows you to tag pages, track visitors, have personalized landing pages, and use progressive profiling — use it. This data will be invaluable when getting to know your customers.
  5. Are your sales reps following up leads in a timely manner. Like a good restaurant server they need to be approaching customers when the customer is ready and when it’s appropriate — otherwise the advance will be unwelcome.

Personas can take your sales to the next level, but then a little extra input is needed. This is normally in the form of software. A good piece of marketing automation software really can accelerate your sales and impact on your top line. Oracle Maxymiser will bring all your customer data into focus. You can run simple A/B testing or super-complex multivariate testing. In a few easy steps you can track and analyze customer behavior across all channels. All this will allow you to sharpen your personalization and gain customer insights like never before.

Sojourn Solutions are the world’s leading marketing automation experts. We were some of the first-ever Eloqua certified consultants and have been helping Eloqua customers on their marketing automation journey for over a decade. We’ve helped hundreds of companies overcome challenges and achieve business results that impact their top-line revenue. It’s with genuine insight and intuition that we guide our customers to take absolute advantage of the wealth of capabilities within the Oracle Marketing Cloud.

Rebecca Le Grange

About the author:

Rebecca Le Grange

Managing Partner

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